Handmade Ornament Swap 2014

Every year a small group of my friends virtually get together for an ornament swap. It started almost ten years ago when I was in graduate school. Myself and my two classmates, Reina and Jade, joined an open swap through cake + pie and Freshly Blended, two blogs who have since dissolved (I think). You entered your name and were assigned to a random group. It was hit or miss. We each got some real keepers and at least one that looked like an item on regretsy. But we were all immediately hooked on handcrafting ornaments.

So while years have gone by and our lives have gone in all different directions, Reina, Jade and I have reconnected every Christmas through our love of handmade gifts. And more recently I've brought a few new friends into the mix to keep the tradition alive. Six members. Six ornaments. How hard can it be?!

Every year I over commit myself to the swap and find myself staying up way too late. This year is no different. A few weeks ago I saw this embroidery on Shiny Fabulous Darling's tumblr page. It blew my mind. I wasn't even sure how to do French knots but YouTube helped me out and I was on my way. I seriously underestimated the time it would take to do six ornaments.

All my friends are spread across the country so I wanted to do something special with each state. I was inspired by this ornament and this ornament. Combined with the french knots and you get this!

Ornament swap pic tree

I estimated that I did about 1500 french knots in the last two weeks. My eyes are crossed. My neck hurts. But I really love this ornament and am so happy with how it came out. I started by printing the silhouette of each state out from the internet. Then traced it in pencil onto linen and set it into a hoop to do my embroidery. I used the Laurel Canyon thread pack from Sublime Stitching and just began french knotting at random.

French knot close-up

I'm not the best embroiderer so I still have a few things to learn. Like how to keep the back pretty. I worked with three colors at a time so that means I crossed and knotted a lot of thread on the back. Fortunately it is forever hidden.

Ornament back


Thank goodness each person is in a different state so there are no repeats.

Group ornaments

Each ornament was backed with a yellow or purple fabric and then stuffed to make a little pillow. Easy and cheap to send across the country. I put a little heart in the city where everyone lived. I think Seattle, Washington is my favorite. I love how the NW water inlet turned out. I hope everyone loves them.

Mine are just rolling in, so I'll be posting a few on Instagram.